Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peach Tea Cupcakes Topped With Cream Cheese Frosting Garnished with a Mint Leaf


I’ve been desperately trying to recreate the complicated and intriguing peach tea cupcake recipe I found on Paula Deen’s website ages ago, but have been unable even to equip my kitchen with all the necessary ingredients and tools until now.


The recipe calls for overly ripened peaches, so I bought several peaches that were nowhere near ripe, and waited for them to ripen.

In the meantime, I bought a “fine sieve,” which to me, translated to a berry strainer. (From the looks of pictures online and the result of my cupcakes, I think I guessed the meaning correctly.)

Then, I bought mint as a garnish, returned home to my peaches only to find that they had become extra furry — moldy, in fact. These went in the trash right away.

I bought four very ripe peaches to replace the first lost cause, and pledged to bake the following day. After a busy day of working in a psychology lab as a research assistant and babysitting a family as, well, a babysitter, I returned home to start my cupcakes and was hard at work until close to midnight.

To add further insult to injury, one of my peaches molded over night. I was quite perturbed!

I made Earl Grey tea-infused butter relatively early in the evening so that the melted butter would have time to solidify by the time I wanted to use it. There were no pictures online of what the butter should look like once infused with tea, but mine took on a nice olive green color and looked totally unappetizing.



Overall, these cupcakes have the strangest texture I’ve ever seen in a cupcake. When they were done baking, they sort of looked like sponge cakes, and when I ate one sans frosting but fresh from the oven, it felt like I was eating peach tea. It was a very bizarre and enjoyable experience.


I chose to pipe on my frosting because I loved the picture on Paula Deen's website, and wanted to replicate the look of those cupcakes.


Cupcake Recipe found and Frosting Recipe adapted from Pauladeen.com, created by Stefani Pollack of cupcakeproject.com.

First things first, for the tea-infused butter:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • about 1/3 cup whole leaf Early Grey tea (I used a fancy one called Royal Green, which may be responsible for the bright green hue)
Directions:
  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium high until it has all just melted
  • Add tea leaves and stir for five minutes (the instructions on Paula Deen don’t say stir, but I impulsively did, so I think it’s fine either way)
  • Remove from heat and let it stand for five more minutes (I didn’t stir here)
  • Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (sieve) and press hard on the tea leaves to squeeze out all the butter. If you spill any leaves into the bowl, grab another and restrain.
  • Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it (If it is warmer/colder than room temperature when you want to use it, wait until it is)
Those are the messiest looking instructions I’ve ever seen. Sorry about that. The rest of the steps will be more straightforward I promise.

Peach Tea Cupcakes: Yields 18 regular cupcakes, but I decided to make 12 regular size cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. 
24 > 18 — It’s pretty simple math.
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/3 cup tea-infused butter (probably all of the butter you’ll be left with after straining)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped overripe (but not moldy) peaches
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix sugar and zest and allow to sit for 30 minutes (or until you become too anxious to wait any longer)
  • Cream tea-infused butter with sugar zest mixture
  • Beat in eggs one at a time
  • Add ginger
  • Alternate adding flour and milk, a little at a time
  • Fold in peaches
  • Distribute evenly among cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes (Here, the directions say bake until cupcakes bounce back on you when lightly touched. They sort of did after 20 minutes, and were starting to brown around the edges so I took them out)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • a small squeeze of lemon (about 1/5 of the lemon’s juice)
Directions:
  • Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy
  • Add powdered sugar a bit at a time
  • Add lemon and blend once more for good measure
I adapted the frosting recipe slightly because I only had 2 tablespoons left of butter. In fact, after these cupcakes, I’ve exhausted my butter, powdered sugar, and all-purpose flour supplies! I can’t complain much though because the resulting Peach Tea Cupcakes Topped With Cream Cheese Frosting Garnished with a Mint Leaf (whew, that’s a mouthful!) were totally worth it. My dutiful taste testers have named it a favorite!

Decorating Directions (if you so desire):
  • Put the inside piece (I don’t know the correct term) of a coupler inside a disposable pastry bag
  • Fill the bag 2/3 full of frosting (you’ll refill before you’re done, but it’s much easier to handle the bag this way)
  • Cut off the tip of the bag and attach a star shaped tip (I used a number 32) with the outside piece of the coupler
  • Practice piping into your bowl of extra frosting (waste not want not) and once you’re comfortable, pipe cupcakes from the outside in.
For  a better description of how to use disposable pastry bags, check out bakeat350.blogspot.com's tutorial.


And while I don't actually grow mint in my little herb garden, I thought it would still be appropriate to set up a photograph with a plant in the background — just pretend that plant isn't cilantro!


Happy Baking!

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